Making the Right Steps: Celebs Who Used To Dance

September 27, 2013  |  
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You’re taught in geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  However, in life, we can learn that the straight line approach might be desired, but isn’t the only path to where you want to be.  For the following celebs, on their way to becoming the famous people that they are–or were, they also explored different avenues, such as dance.

Here’s a list of celebrities that used to bust-a-move:


There’s a reason why Diddy can get away with creating obscure dances and then naming them after himself.  Before he became the mogul that he is, he used to be a background dancer.  You can even catch him dancing in the Father MC “Treat Them Like They Want to be Treated”  joint.

Jennifer Lopez

This is common knowledge for most, but for those who don’t know:  Before Jennifer Lopez was setting the silver screen on fire with her acting chops, helping to shape the dreams of singing-hopefuls, and even before she was known as “J-Lo,” she was known as a Fly Girl on “In Living Color.”

Jada Pinkett-Smith

Speaking of “In Living Color,” when Jada Pinkett Smith graduated from her performing arts high school with Tupac and then North Carolina School of the Arts, she ventured to the bright lights of LA trying to find a way to break into the business.  She had a background in dance and when she found out about Keenan Ivory Wayan’s show, “In Living Color,” she auditioned to be the choreographer.

Keenan liked her style and the two worked on the movie Low Down Dirty Shame. However, the job of the choreographer went to…


Rosie Perez

Sometimes it would be nice to be able to get a job when you’re out and about.  Like, going to the grocery store could get you the CPA job you wanted.  Or, the dentist office that you were applying for saw you at the frozen yogurt shoppe and was like:  “Hey, she looks like she could be a great dental hygienist.”

That would be irresponsible for the employer, but this has been a way that people have gotten into Hollywood, including Rosie Perez.  While Rosie was busting a mean move in a club, she caught the attention of director Spike Lee, who hired her to dance in the opening scene of Do the Right Thing.   She became a sought after choreographer who did videos for Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, LL Cool J, and others.  She went on to Broadway then made her way back to the silver screen.


The “Thug Life” rapper made rhymes that still affect the masses to this day.  Before his untimely death, he attended the Baltimore School of the Arts with Jada Pinkett-Smith, where he studied poetry, music, and of course dance.  Within the program he took all sorts of dance, including ballet.

Before becoming the iconic rapper that he’s known for today, he was the background dancer for Digital Underground, before taking the music world by storm.

Kelly Bishop

Now I know I’m not the only one who was a fan of Gilmore Girls.  Kelly Bishop, who played the mother to Lauren Graham’s “Lorelai Gilmore,” got into dance at a young age to help her with her shyness.  She was an acclaimed dancer, winning Tony awards while performing on Broadway, before hitting movie and television screens.

Taraji P. Henson

I don’t know if anyone else was surprised at how fluid Taraji’s dance moves were in Jamie Foxx’s video “Just Like Me,” but she’s been dancing for years.

The Academy Award nominated actress even worked as a dancing waitress while in college at Howard University.  It’s actually how she helped to pay for her schooling.

Zoe Saldana

Before Saldana was gaining fans on the silver screen, she was gaining them on stage.  After the death of her father, she and her mother moved back to the Dominican Republic where Zoe trained in classical, ballet, and jazz dancing.  After moving back to the States, she continued to perform and win recognition which ultimately lead to her role in Center Stage as Eva, a talented ballerina.

Michael K. Williams

The talent that this man possesses… just amazing.

Michael always had a talent in dancing, but was actively pursuing something more grounded in life, until he saw Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” video. He then decided to quit his day job, take dance classes and get good at his craft.

Williams began appearing in music videos and touring as a background dancer for performers like Madonna, George Michael, and even began a career as a choreographer.  But after a fight in a bar, he was cut across his face.  Not letting that deter him, he continued appearing in videos, until he appeared in Madonna’s “Secret” and a talent agent liked his look and offered him an acting job.  Michael put off touring with Madonna and that step has led him to be the successful actor that he is now.



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